GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) – The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual “Light the Night” illuminated Jones Park Thursday as hundreds walked for a cure.

Everyone who signs up to walk at the event gets a lantern, each with a special meaning. Natalie Giles carried a yellow lantern to remember her father.

“He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia or AML, and unfortunately lost his battle in February of this year,” she explained.

Trendall Edwards walked with his family while holding a red lantern in support of his sister.

“She’s been dealing with this for a very long time now, going up on 20 years,” said Edwards.

Ed Carmine held a white lantern to honor fellow survivors and celebrate personal triumph.

“I’m a cancer survivor of multiple myeloma. Diagnosed in January and I’m cancer-free today,” he said.

LLS holds “Light the Night” annually to raise money not just for research, but for life-saving treatment and patient support services.

“A lot of prayers went up for him during this time, and for him to be cancer-free in just six months, it’s a miracle,” said Susan Carmine, Ed’s wife.

Emotions poured as survivors of all walks of life lifted their lanterns.

“It can affect anybody, so you never know,” Giles stated.

Family members said being present is the best medicine they can offer.

“To go through something by yourself is one thing. But to have people in your corner, have your back, and look around and see those same faces that have always been there, that helps it even more.”

People suffering from leukemia suffer from one of the deadliest types of blood cancers. It is specifically, a form of cancer of the white blood cells.

In modern-day practice, leukemia can also refer to malignancy in the blood or any cellular element in the bone marrow, wherein, the white blood cells multiply uncontrollably. This results in more white blood cells in the bloodstream. This type of blood cancer usually occurs in children with ages between 3 to 7 years while in adults, it occurs between ages 50 to 60 years old.

The specific cause of leukemia is unknown but inheritance plays a big role in becoming susceptible to this condition. People with leukemia experience bone pain, easy bleeding, pale skin, and fatigue as well as abdominal pain, easy bruising, and lymph gland swelling. Treatment of leukemia includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplant.

Since blood cancers involve the blood, it is more deadly and most dreaded. The infected blood can imminently spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. Leukemia starts in the bone marrow – the spongy, soft material inside the bones where blood cells are produced from stem cells. As mentioned above, leukemia mostly affects the white blood cells which protect the body against infection. Then, cancer commences when abnormal white blood cells are created as a result when the development of stem cells into white blood cells goes uncontrollably wrong. With blood cancers, the abnormal white cells take over other types of blood cells, including the red blood cells (the ones that transport oxygen to the body tissues) and the platelets which make blood clotting possible. Therefore, leukemia is the intervention of the blood’s ability to carrying oxygen and in clotting.

Without the presence of leukemia, the white blood cells can readily function in fighting disease-producing germs or pathogens. However, when it becomes dysfunctional, it can weaken the patient’s immune system. The body won’t be able to fight even the simplest of infections. Pathogens can start attacking various other bodily cells. Since blood cancers destroy the immune system’s normal function, some patients can experience frequent infections ranging from infected tonsils, diarrhea or sores in the mouth to opportunistic infections and life-threatening pneumonia.

Studies are still ongoing to determine the exact causes of leukemia. Medical experts think that exposure to ionizing radiation and hazardous chemicals can trigger the development of these blood cancers. Irrespective of the age, survival rate is very low. This enlists leukemia as one of the most fatal of all cancers.

Leukemia patients have a 43% survival rate of 5 years. It is also noted that leukemia is hereditary or it can be traced to the family’s history. However, this should not hinder you from living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a nutritious diet to prevent it. Diet should contain vegetable juices, lots of water, unrefined sea salt and foods that can heal like Aloe Vera, lemon, olive oil, green tea, tomato and more. For some people, fish, oranges, and bananas can also help prevent blood cancers.

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